When children are happy, I’m happy

Whenever “Football for All in Vietnam” project (FFAV) organizes football events for children in Thua Thien Hue province, the 69 years-old man will always present there regardless of the weather and geography.

He always brings with him several cameras and continuously takes many photos of children playing football.

It’s Mr. Phan Cu, a familiar photographer of more than 15,000 young players participating in FFAV during the past 10 years.


Mr. Phan Cu with the happy kids

While turning pages of FFAV albums, Ms. Chau Hong Tinh (FFAV staff) said: “Our project aims to bring fun to children at all districts in TT Hue province. Taking photos while children are playing football is not an easy work, thus it’s hard to find a person with skills. Thanks to Mr. Cu, many beautiful moments in our project are captured”.

A 10-years game

He firstly watched football for fun and tried taking some photos; however, until now he has always presented at all FFAV events.

He often brings 4 cameras and takes photos of players wearing socks from different pairs or bare feet while playing football, children with intelligent impairment happily smiling when they first touch a ball.

Even it’s just his hobby beside his work; he never comes late or leaves an event early. He not only takes photos for FFAV, but also carefully selects, classifies, prints photos and gifts them to children. Until now, it might not be able to estimate a number of photos which he gave to children.

At the events with thousands of children participating, he couldn’t remember all to bring photos to them. So, he found a base which helped him to stand higher, he raised each photo up for children to recognize themselves and come to get it.

Children received photos and showed them to others, they carefully brought them home. The gifts like those photos are considered luxurious at their communities.

Beside the events organized for primary and secondary students, FFAV also organize events for children with hearing  impairment or learning disability.

They are usually shy and lack of confidence, but when being on a football pitch, they are very confident and smiles happily in front of cameras. Mr. Vo Quoc Thinh, the coach who has been a coach at the football club for children with disabilities for the past 10 years, cheerfully said: “Children are familiar with Mr. Cu’s cameras, they don’t feel shy anymore. Each child here has printed photos taken by him.”

FFAV gallery room

Mr. Cu is the owner of Mandarin Café, on Tran Cao Van Street, Hue city. This restaurant is very familiar to foreign tourists because it has been mentioned in many world travelling books.

The most special thing about this restaurant is that the owner can tell stories about Hue in English fluently and with “very Hue” photos decorated on the walls.

From 1 year ago, customers at this restaurant will also be showed to the FFAV gallery room on the second floor, the “expensive” floor with hundreds of photos, pennants, uniforms of young players. To decorate this room, Mr. Cu worked really hard to print photos and come to FFAV office to ask for pins, pennants, posters and football equipment.

Ms. Chau Hong Tinh said: “In 2013, he came to the office and asked for different things, we all were curious about what he was doing. Until we came to the FFAV show room at his restaurant, we all were moved by his love toward FFAV.”

As a result, many foreign tourists contacted FFAV to support and contribute to FFAV. In last June, a group of Australian students came to Hue for travelling and played a friendly match with children with disabilities in Hue city.

When playing football with foreign friends for the first time, Hoang Trong Tu, 13 years – old boy shared: “I really like it, they are much taller than me, but I still could dribble a ball past them. And we won!”

When being asked why he offered this room to promote FFAV for free, he smiled and said: “FFAV is a community project; I think if more people know about it, more people come to support activities for children. Children are happy, I’m happy.”

The silent volunteers

“Football for All in Vietnam” project (FFAV) initiated by the Football Association of Norway (NFF) and started to implement in TT Hue province since 2003.

With the aim to develop non-competitive grassroots football for children, until now FFAV has had 148 football clubs and organized football events for thousands of children. During the past 10 years, the project has received many supports from many volunteers who love football and children.

Beside Mr. Phan Cu, there is Mr. Ha Van Vot (at Huong Thuy district, Hue province) who is already 78 years old and hasn’t yet been absent at any match of children in Huong Thuy district. He often plays a role of a coach or a football commentator. Also, there are teachers at schools who stay at school after their working time to organize football activities and bring students fun.

Written by Doan Bao Chau


Translated by Ngo Thi Xuan Thao